It’s safe to say that the last few months have been very challenging. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a business owner, a waitress or a student, it’s quite likely that over the past weeks, something in your life has fundamentally changed. In small ways and large, we’ve all been affected by COVID-19.
New stresses may have appeared. Old routines have been forgotten only to be replaced by new ones. These sudden changes can leave many feeling anxious or stressed. So, while it’s important to recognize the unfamiliar ground that we suddenly find ourselves on, it’s equally important to pay attention to our stress levels and our health.
What’s Keeping You Up at Night?
The answer to this question will differ from person to person. Yet when asked, many patients will respond with answers that revolve around the same themes:
- Current stressors – COVID-19 has added even more stress to our daily lives.
- Prior wounds – Current events may act as a trigger for past life events and bring back uncomfortable memories.
- Loneliness or feelings of isolation.
- Chronic illness that has been made worse in recent months.
Some of these themes and how we can help are explored in greater detail below:
- Finding New Coping Mechanisms
COVID-19 has taken away many activities that we previously used to help deal with stress. Left unchecked, chronic stress can have significant impacts on our health. Stress raises the level of cortisol in our body while simultaneously reducing the levels of DHEA. This means we age faster, gain weight, and worsen existing health problems. Now more than ever, it’s critical that when dealing with high levels of stress, we find effective ways of dealing with it.
- Safety and Security
Feelings of safety and security also play a role in our overall well-being. The unexpectedness of COVID-19 has made us all feel less safe and more helpless. This can present with many different emotions or behavior that we wouldn’t otherwise turn to.
- Social connections and isolation
Meaningful connection with other people is not a luxury but essential to our survival. Human beings are social creatures. Apart from the sense of community and belonging that we naturally crave, we also get a sense of self-worth from our interactions with those around us. The isolation that COVID-19 has imposed on us can increase anxiety and reduce our ability to cope with it.True, meaningful social interactions can counteract the negative effects of isolation. In fact, studies show that those with more meaningful social connections tend to sleep better, have an improved mood and lower rates of depression. Unfortunately using social media and texts does not compensate for face to face interactions.
Steps You Can Take to Deal with Your Stressors
- Talk therapy — discussing problems with a licensed professional can help patients unwind and keep a healthy perspective.
- Meditation / Yoga – These activities are much healthier outlets than drinking alcohol or overeating. Meditation and Yoga are great relaxation tools to use.
- Psychotherapy – Talking with an objective observer can relieve anxiety, decrease depression, and help individuals make choices that are more beneficial to their cognitive and emotional health.Therapy can also help patients deal with high stress levels and learn effective coping techniques such as guided imagery, autogenic biofeedback, HRV and self-hypnosis.Knowingly or unknowingly many of us carry past childhood traumas. These traumas can affect the way we lead our lives as adults. A therapist can help patients confront these traumas in a safe and secure environment. Ultimately, healing these traumas can make living easier today, and in the future.
Our Approach to Treatment
At The Kaplan Center, our staff members use a comprehensive and flexible approach that is designed to help each individual person heal themselves. Healing involves the mind, body and spirit. All techniques are tailored to individual needs and designed to help people effectively manage distress, dysregulation and build confidence.
Many patients find the psychotherapy component and its use of biofeedback techniques that involve measuring skin temperature, blood pressure and heart rate simple, fun, and effective.
Modalities that may be used include: Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR), Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Sensorimotor psychotherapy, mindfulness, HRV biofeedback, Interactive Guided Imagery and Self-Hypnosis. All these techniques help clients connect to their mind’s bodies and emotions.
In particular, EMDR is a therapy that helps heal wounds from disturbing life experiences. It has been extensively researched and proven highly effective at helping people heal from distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression and panic disorders. Since our emotional well-being is tied with our physical (somatic) state.
EMDR is especially helpful because it uses a body-based technique called bilateral stimulation using eye movements, taps or tones. This stimulation helps a person adaptively process information that may be incorrectly stored in the mind and body. That incorrect storage can make past memories feel like they are happening in the present and people re-experience the same awful feelings (shame, fear, anxiety, and anger) along with the same negative beliefs about themselves. The brain feels as if that past distressing event is happening at the current time. EMDR therapy corrects the storage problem so that past painful memories associated with past traumas lose their charge.
Patients can react to stimuli in the present without the past interfering. The healing that occurs when that information is stored in a more functional part of our brain is a permanent fix. EMDR heals trauma and attachment wounds and allows people to take back their lives.
As we try to navigate our lives into a new semblance of normal, stress, illness and mental health shouldn’t be forgotten. One reason to consider seeing a psychotherapist is that speaking to a professional can relieve anxiety, decrease depression, and help you see how to make choices that are more beneficial to your cognitive and emotional health.
We are here for you, and we want to help.
Our goal is to return you to optimal health as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment please call: 703-532-4892 x2